Alfred Doblin's bad math

One goal here at On the Banks is to try to give an honest account of the Rutgers University athletic department dealings. That means acknowledging unpleasant truths when necessary, as in several recent posts about university and athletic department finances.

On the other hand, one of the perils with a soapbox is that sometimes a criticism is just so off the mark that no end would be served by acknowledging it (for instance, a couple angry letters to the editor I see every once in a while in my newsreader). Unless a criticism is so ridiculous as to be over the top, like Gannett's editorial board attacking the athletic department last summer for accepting private donations to build a recruiting lounge, then it's better to just pick the right battles.

Doblin's column from yesterday has hit the message boards and assorted national media outlets, so it should be customarily eviscerated and tossed aside.

Doblin takes issue with Greg Schiano's compensation in the context of the current New Jersey budget woes. While fair game perhaps in the context of a Rutgers-centric discussion, or in a broader debate of nationwide compensation trends for coaches, it's of limited use in any discussion of the state budget.

Here's why. In the 2010 fiscal year, the state of New Jersey provided 24.2% of the Rutgers budget. The 2011 figure will be much lower, if the proposed cut of $46.6 million is enacted. The largest single contributor to the school budget is student tuition, which has rapidly risen in accordance with the last two decades of budget cuts.

Of the total budget, the latest available figures from 2008 have the Rutgers general fund providing slightly over 30% of the athletic department's budget in the form of direct institutional support. (Please see here for more on this topic).

According to USA Today's coaching salaries database (which lacks information from a couple private FBS programs), Coach Schiano came in at 22nd in the nation last year at slightly over $2,000,000 in total compensation. When you take into account the high cost of living and tax burden in New Jersey, that figure probably would dip even lower.

Let's recap. Doblin is apparently under the impression that state aid fully funds all operations at Rutgers, including every athletic department expenditure. While he's welcome to publish an op-ed in The Record supporting that revolutionary socialist ideal, the reality is that Rutgers University has been on a slow but steady march towards full privatization over the past decade as a direct result of state budgetary policy. That's a topic certainly open for debate, but the argument is wholly contrived as a phony attempt to divert blame for Christie's budget cuts on "waste". (Note: this blog is non-political, and no further implications are intended from anything said here). Do not be fooled, or stand for this garbage for even one moment.

This shoddy column is the equivalent to a demagogue politician in Washington expressing public outrage over minor earmarks, while refusing to put entitlement or military spending on the table for cuts. It takes a lot of nerve to make Rutgers a scapegoat over Schiano's contract, or a stadium expansion funded by a bond tied to ticket sales, while the new Meadowlands football stadium received hundreds of millions in public subsidies. By failing to even do basic research in that respect, Doblin proves himself an unrepentant hack of the worst kind. He and Democratic State Sen. Ron Rice should ideally crawl into one of those giant vacant storerooms at Xanadu and never come out.

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